Barefoot babes

Shoes are good for kids, right?  Wrong!  Here’s why you should take their shoes off today!

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I remember when my first born started walking.  I was so worried about doing everything right… you know, as everyone does with their first child!  So we got him the best shoes we could find.  With arch support and padding of course.  We strapped them on, and our previously very mobile toddler, could barely walk a step without falling.  When he stopped falling, he looked like those puppies that have boots on.  What was going on?

We did not know then, what we know now.  Shoes have no benefit for small children, other than protecting them from injury.  For example, stepping on glass.

Shoes can actually weaken the muscles of your child’s foot, and damage their structure.

Children that do not wear shoes, have been shown to have better arches, and stronger feet.

Going barefoot, also allows your child to gather sensory data from their feet.  They would not be able to feel the grass, moisture from the soil, or temperature with shoes on.

They also are less able to develop their gross motor skills, because wearing shoes alters their natural balance.

What do we do now for shoes?

Our smallest kids wear Robeez as long as possible, when they aren’t able to be barefoot.  For my oldest, we just started buying Vivo Barefoot shoes and we are in love!  The shoes are very cool looking, which was a major concern for my oldest.  He reports they are his most comfortable shoes ever.  They have been good for playing sports, when shoes are necessary.  The shoes are also very minimal.  (In case you’re wondering, I have no sponsorship deal with either company mentioned in this post).

Do yourself and your little one a favour today, go outside without shoes!

 

Much of the information is from one of my all time favourite books, Balanced and Barefoot Angela J. Hanscom.

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Raising a Wild Child

Do you aspire to raise kids that LOVE the outdoors?  Here’s a beginner’s guide:

20180507_130947-COLLAGE.jpgFind a few spots in your week that you can fit in some outdoor time.   Two times that work well for us are, right after lunch, but before nap time; or right after school.  If we go after school, I  make sure dinner is in the slow cooker, so I avoid cranky hungry monsters.

Find one outdoor place, that is easy to get to, and good for hanging out.  I would aim for a natural area, that has interesting features, like trees, rocks, sticks, long grasses or a creek.  When starting out, you’ll probably want to bring your kids to one spot and migrate every 15 to 30 minutes to a different spot.  This can mean moving 10 feet further down the trail.  This provides variety for kids that aren’t quite comfortable making up their own games yet.  Eventually when kids are used to playing in nature, you’ll be able to settle in one spot for much longer periods… but you may still enjoy variety.

Dress yourself and kids appropriately to enjoy yourself.  Bring along extra clothes and layers, especially for your kids 6 and under.

We have a “go bag” that stays in our garage that carries supplies that we want when going to the forest.  This will vary for ages, experience level and interests, but things we have in our bag: a magnifying glass, shovels, hand rake, small saw, rope, whittling knife, wipes and band aids.  We don’t have one, but a map and compass would be a great addition.

“I’m BOOoooOOred”… If this is happening, you may need to get your kids started in an activity, like helping them build a small fairy house, or dig for worms.  However, back off as soon as they are into an activity.  By playing independently, they are learning to use their imagination, and directing their own learning.  It also gives you an opportunity to observe your children, and let their games and questions direct what topics you could learn about next.

Find a way to enjoy yourself outdoors.  Bring a book, garden, watch the birds, read my blog for more ideas… (you know I had to!)

The last point is important:  They are going to be messy!!  Be prepared.  Things that help, are a large boot mat, change of clothes ready, cloth to wipe hands, and PATIENCE!

Yes, it would be easier to just let your child veg out and become a couch potato…  but you’d be missing out on the magic of raising a Wild Child!

 

Scaling the walls to boost Gross motor skills

Use what you have!  We have a neat wall under a bridge.  It has big rocks, and a decent slant the kids can use to climb.

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Although nature always wins in my books, sometimes architecture can be fun to climb too!

 

Cold Rainy days for the outdoorsy

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Usually it doesn’t take much to get kids enjoying the outdoors.  However this week, it took a little incentive to get them out on a really cold day, in the rain…

However, a puddle, a hockey stick and some bubbles kept everyone busy as bees until they found a real project.  Which was of course, splashing in the biggest puddle and getting really really really muddy!

After a big romp in the rain (but mostly mud), we all snuggled up  by the fireplace and enjoyed hot chocolate.

Why I encourage messiness

Throwing your kids in the mud to make them smarter?

Forget sensory bins.  They only provide input to your child’s hands.  They will make a mess. Your kids may play for 5 minutes and get bored.  They can be time consuming and expensive to put together.  (Angela J. Hanscom)

Try a full immersion sensory experience instead!

At the end of a rainy day, we hiked over to a mountain biking trail.  There is a 10 foot drop for bikers.  Because it was rainy, it was deserted.

We turned it into a mudslide!

The kids had a blast throwing themselves down the muddy hill.  Making mud pies.  Rolling down the hill.  We lost some boots.  Kids used every ounce of their energy going up and down this hill.

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We returned home with about an extra 30 lbs of extra mud on each kid.

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